The Bald Prima Donna

Meaning

Like many plays in the theatre of the absurd genre, the underlying theme of The Bald Soprano is not immediately apparent. Many suggest that it expresses the futility of meaningful communication in modern society. The script is charged with non sequiturs that give the impression that the characters are not even listening to each other in their frantic efforts to make their own voices heard. There was speculation that it was parody around the time of its first performance, but Ionesco states in an essay written to his critics that he had no intention of parody, but if he were parodying anything, it would be everything.

The Bald Soprano appears to have been written as a continuous loop. The final scene contains stage instructions to start the performance over from the very beginning, with the Martin couple substituted for the Smith couple and vice versa. However, this decision was only added in after the show's hundredth premier, and it was originally the Smiths who restarted the show, in exactly the same manner as before.

According to Ionesco, he had several possible endings in mind, including a climax in which the "author" or "manager" antagonizes the audience, and even a version in which the audience is shot with machine guns. However, he ultimately settled for a cheaper solution, the cycle. Ionesco told Claude Bonnefoy in an interview, "I wanted to give a meaning to the play by having it begin all over again with two characters. In this way the end becomes a new beginning but, since there are two couples in the play, it begins the first time with the Smiths and the second time with the Martins, to suggest the interchangeable nature of the characters: the Smiths are the Martins and the Martins are the Smiths".[5]


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